TeachRock during Black History Month, part 3: Music as a Representation of People and Place

Educators, enrich your Black History Month programs with lesson plans that use music as the entry point for discussions. Engage your students with rich multimedia materials that highlight the achievements of key artists including Howlin’ Wolf, Nas, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Kanye West, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Santana, Beyonce, James Brown, Ice-T, Curtis Mayfield, Public Enemy, Parliament, Grandmaster Flash, N.W.A., Ice Cube, De La Soul and more. Make connections between the lives and work of such individuals as Martin Luther King, Jr., Amiri Baraka, Harry Belafonte, Robert F. Kennedy and the music that inspired change.

The Sounds of Humanity: Music as a Representation of People and Place lesson collection encourages students to explore music’s capacity to express personal identity as well as regional identity. The materials in this collection are a part of the nearly hundred lesson plans available to educators at no cost at TeachRock.org.


The Blues: The Sound of Rural Poverty

How do the Country Blues reflect the challenges of sharecropping, racial injustice, and rural poverty in early 20th-century African-American life?

The Blues and the Great Migration

How did the Great Migration spread Southern culture, helping to give the Blues a central place in American popular music?

The Musical Roots of Doo Wop

How did Doo Wop develop as a musical genre?

The Influence of Rhythm and Blues

What did R&B bring to early Rock and Roll, and how was early Rock and Roll different?

Gospel Music and the Birth of Soul

How did Gospel influence American popular music?

Hound Dog

How does the story of “Hound Dog” demonstrate music culture’s racial mixing as it differed from mainstream American life in the 1950s?

Humanity’s Beats: How Rhythms Represent People and Place

How does “the beat” of popular music reflect the histories of multiethnic populations and places?

Say it Loud: The Rise of Black Pride

How did Social Soul reflect a new vision of African-American identity in the late 1960s and early 1970s?

Seventies Soul: The Soundtrack of Turbulent Times

How did changes in the Soul music of the early 1970s reflect broader shifts in American society during that time?

Funk Asserts Itself: Black Art for Black Audiences

How did 1970s Funk respond to African-American life in the decade following the Civil Rights movement?

The Historical Roots of Hip Hop

What are the historical roots of Hip Hop?

Divergent Paths in the 1990s: Gangsta Rap and Conscious Hip Hop

How did Gangsta Rap and Conscious Hip Hop respond to the social and political conditions of the 1990s?